Windows Mini Laptop – Sony Vaio Z
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In today’s article we have a look at the Sony Vaio Z that came out last year. As you know, Sony is a well-known manufacturer of high-end laptops while this Z is considered as being the top model of the Vaio series, which it should be since it has a starting price of no less than $2,000. The laptop looks pretty much like the regular luxury 13-inch system but it comes with a bunch of rater unusual new features, like a separate docking station that features several additional ports and connections, along with an optical drive which can be upgraded to a Blu-ray. Most importantly, it also has an AMD Radeon 6630M graphics card.
To connect the laptop to this docking station you’ll have to use a cable that will occupy both the AC and the USB 3.0 ports. It uses the external GPU in the same way as it would do if that graphics card were inside the laptop. Keep in mind that this docking station is included in the base version of the Vaio Z so you won’t have to spend extra money for it. However, how many people would by this laptop for its gaming capabilities?
As we said, the starting price is of $2,000 but if you have more money to spare you can opt for a more expensive configuration that costs about $800 more. Under the hood there is a second-generation Intel Core i7-2620M processor clocked at 2.70 GHz and 4GB of DDR3 memory working at 1,333 MHz. For storage there are two SSDs of 128GB each so you get a total of 256GB to store your files. The chipset installed in this Sony Vaio Z is an Intel HM57, while the graphics department is handled by the integrated Intel HD 3000 and the aforementioned AMD Radeon 6630M.
This premium laptop is running on Windows 7 Home Premium, the 64-bit edition, and has the following dimensions: 12.4 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches. It tips the scales at just 2.5 pounds while its AC adapter weighs an additional 0.8 pounds. It is indeed an ultraportable that you can take with you on long trips without any issues.
The Sony Vaio Z features a black carbon fiber body which manages to be thinner than previous versions of the model. The slate-like chassis along with the matte black finish are looking exceptional in our humble opinion. As far as the flat-topped keyboard is concerned, it looks just about the same as the ones we’ve seen in other Vaio models. There is a noticeable difference as the keys on the 2011 version of the Vaio Z are very shallow which unfortunately might turn out into an odd experience for some users. This isn’t a laptop that we would recommend to those of you that do a lot of typing.
As for the touchpad, it is a combination of the click pad touchpads seen in the newest laptops and the regular touchpads that come with separate left + right mouse buttons. Sony used a patterned texture for this touchpad and has non textured, attached mouse buttons that have been separated by a fingerprint reader. The texture of the touchpad manages to offer a smooth user experience while performing multitouch gestures is a pleasurable activity.
Perhaps the best feature of this ultraportable from Sony is its gorgeous 13-inch display that has a maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. For less money you could opt for the less impressive 1,600 x 900-pixel resolution. The Vaio Z also comes with 5.1 built-in speaker system that includes a subwoofer. The audio quality is excellent for a laptop so the video-watching and gaming experience will be more than just enjoyable.
Let’s mention the ports and connectivity features offered by the Sony Vaio Z and start by mentioning that in the video area it packs VGA out and an HDMI port, while the dock has its own VGA and HDMI ports. For audio you get a headphone and microphone combo jack, while for data transfer purposes it packs two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, an SD card reader and a memory stick reader. There is also another USB 3.0 port on the dock we’ve previously mentioned.
The networking area is covered by an Ethernet port, Bluetooth, 802.11n Wi-Fi and optional mobile broadband. As standard you get a DVD burner or an optional Blu-ray player in the dock.
This more expensive version of the Sony Vaio Z is powered by an impressive Core i7-2620M processor clocked at 2.70 GHz which is a serious CPU for a 13-inch laptop, making it one of the most powerful laptops of its kind. It is quicker than the XPS 15z from Dell in some benchmark tests, a laptop that has the same processor and double the amount of DDR3 memory.
With the integrated Intel HD 3000 you can run Street Fighter IV at 11.7 fps at full HD resolution. With the dedicated GPU it manages to run the same video game at 29 fps. A more demanding game is Metro 2033 and the Vaio Z can play this one at 12.1 fps with the AMD graphics card. This is actually a very good score since the game runs at a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution with the graphics settings at high.
The Sony Vaio Z (model 2011) comes with a pretty good battery since it manages to last for approximately four and a half hours during a demanding test consisting of video playback. However, other models in this segment like the Toshiba Portege R835 and the Samsung Series 9 are able to survive longer in the same test. If you have the money, Sony offers an optional slice battery that will set you back $150. With both of the batteries installed, the laptop can last for an impressive ten and a half hours at the expense of one pound and 0.4-inch of bulk to the laptop. In day-to-day use you will probably get up to 12 hours of battery life, an exceptional result in our opinion.